10 Busy Books to Keep your Pre-Reader Occupied % The Bossy House

10 Busy Books to Keep your Pre-Reader Occupied

10 busy books to keep your pre-reader occupied


Do you have a toddler who loves to color and write but isn’t quite ready for those pre-school activity books? These busy books will get your kid working on their own in no time!

For kids who need continual support (in the form of you reading every direction), that activity book you are walking them through isn’t actually developing your child’s independence. These 10 ideas for busy books to keep your pre-reader busy and engaged will help develop their ability to work on their own, as well as sustain effort and increase their stamina for written work. It might even give mom a chance to thumb through her newspaper over the breakfast table!

I’m saving our favorite for last!

These are my favorite, tried and tested, workbooks and activity books for pre-readers. As a mom and an educator, I am thrilled about the fine motor skills my daughter is developing, her growing understanding about the format of independent work, and the pride she feels when she gives herself a star for each completed page!

Don’t forget to pin this (and any of these toys) to your Christmas Gift board!

1. Charlie and Lola: I Completely Must Do Drawing Now

One of our favorite characters is Lola from Charlie and Lola series. Here, Lola embarks on a series of adventures, drawing and painting her way through the world. Your child can complete the pages with colors or just a pencil.

Though you may have to read some of the instructions to your child, most of the pages are self-explanatory. On the rainy day page, finish drawing Charlie’s umbrella. Fill in the plates of their picnic with your drawing of yummy snacks.

There are several pages, too, where your child is invited to cut and paste items in a collage– this is my daughter’s favorite part!

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2. Melissa and Doug Scratch Art Doodle Pad 

Each of these all-black waxy pages, when scratched, reveal amazing rainbow designs underneath. This doodle pad comes with a wooden pen for scratching, and your child will delight in the glitter and colorful designs that are revealed. 8 pages of surprises are waiting to emerge!

This book is small– just 6×6. This makes it easy to carry on the plane or keep in the car for a long road trip.

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3. Sticker Activity ABC

This is a beautiful sticker book, one where your child matches the outline of each picture to the sticker. Grouped by letter, this book helps develop beginning sound recognition as well as shape discrimination.

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4. Wipe Clean Early Learning Workbook

Tracing letters and shapes, counting items and matching sets, this write on, wipe off book will keep your older pre-schooler entertained over and over again! The rings on the book are sturdy, just right for long car trips and plane rides. Your child will love wiping off their work and starting over again!

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5. Colorforms Retro Miss Weather

This colorforms book lets your little one outfit Miss Weather for a variety of types of weather. She’ll spend lots of quiet minutes matching the rainy day outside with Miss Weather’s rain boots, jacket, and umbrella.

Colorforms are a huge memory from my childhood because I could stick the colorforms, remove them, and stick them again and again. This book is great for both your carefree kid and your perfectionist who hates when she gets the sticker in the right place. Here, she can unstick and re-stick it to her heart’s content.

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6. Letter Tracing Book

Got a preschooler who’s practicing her letters? This book has letter tracing pages that give examples in dotted lines then plenty of room for your little writer to practice. The book uses pictures to reinforce beginning letter sounds, and of course includes upper and lower case letters.

My daughter can spend lots of independent time practicing her letters on her own, and she’s so proud when she’s completed a page of amazing, wobbly, pre-school copies of the letter H.

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7. Melissa and Doug Reusable Sticker Pad

More colorforms! In five scenes, your child can customize and arrange her town. Whether at the fire station, school yard, grocery store, or construction site, your child will set and re-set the scene over and over again with this reusable sticker pad.

Our favorite is the Town, but Melissa and Doug also have colorform pads in a huge variety of themes, including Dress Up, Under the Sea, Savanna, Jungle, Vehicles, Fairies, Princesses, Faces, Habitats, and food!

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8. First 100 Stickers: Trucks and Things that Go

This series of sticker books is such a solid choice. With about 35 pages, each of these Roger Priddy books groups items together into categories, and have your child match stickers to the pictures. The next step is for your child to select the sticker that matches the word under each item. Before your child can read, she will be able to match the letters and complete this task on her own. This also starts the process of pre-reading, where she identifies the first sounds in the words and matches those to the pictures, too.

A special bonus with this series is the full page of stars that are included at the back of each book. With these stars, your child can give herself a star for each page in the book she’s completed.

We have every single one of these Roger Priddy sticker books! We plow through one every few months, and my daughter loves them so much. They come in a huge variety of topics and skills for your child to enjoy. Whoever this Roger Priddy person is, thank you very much for giving this mom many moments of peace over Sunday morning coffee.

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9. Connect the Dots Book for Kids

As soon as my daughter learned her numbers, we started on dot-to-dots!

The first pages in this workbook are simple, including sometimes only four or five dots. This gets kids started with the basics. Soon they’ll be doing the more complex patterns, working on their number recognition and fine motor skills.

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Don’t forget to pin this post to your Christmas Gift board!


10. Pete the Cat Giant Sticker Book

This is the absolutely, most incredible sticker book we have ever seen, and we have seen dozens of sticker books!

Full of artistic pages featuring cool-as-a-cucumber Pete the Cat, your child can choose from hundreds of stickers. Decorate Pete’s shoes, pile on scoops of ice cream, and line up Pete’s library books. Most pages can be completed without any adult help reading the directions, and many of the pages include a great multitude of stickers so your child can share them with friends, too!

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Interested in more gift guides? 

8 Toys + Games that Build Problem Solving in Early Childhood

22 Gifts for the Feminist Mom Smashing the Patriarchy between Carpool and Bedtime

11 Toys to Build Counting and Sorting Skills

10 Feminist Books for the Next Generation

AND for a fun surprise, download your free PDF Gift Guide for Irreverent Parents.